This is a follow up story for Jimmy Joy. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello! Remind me who you are and what business you started.
My name is Joey van Koningsbruggen, I’m 32 years old and the founder of Jimmy Joy. I started the company all by myself in May of 2014 at age 24—still in diapers, and my first batch of Jimmy Joy also looked like something you would find in a diaper. But I kept improving the formula, assembled a great team and now we have a whole assortment of beautiful and delicious meals to choose from: the Plenny Shake, Plenny Bar, Plenny Drink, and the Plenny Pot. All our products are vegan and nutritionally complete.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Don’t worry, the business is doing well. We’re doing € 760k in sales per month. Revenue has been growing nicely and we’ve been launching a lot of products.
The most recent one is the Plenny Pot: an instant hot meal we made with all nutrients your body needs to be healthy, and it’s completely plant-based. It took us two years in R&D to figure out how to make it work but they came out nice: they make your taste buds fight each other for which of them get to touch it. And even though the Dutch aren’t known for having a lot of taste in their food, we decided to fuck our heritage and give our meals… flavors. I know, weird right? My ancestors are crying.
Until now, we made three: the Creamy Cajun Pasta, which is slightly spicy and has black beans and mushrooms; the Tikka Masala, which has green lentils, white rice, and a zesty zing; and finally the Vegetable Korma Rice, a mild Indian curry with a creamy character. I eat them all the time. Well not in the shower, or during sex, but you know what I mean. Ok sometimes in the shower. Ok and sometimes during sex.
We’ve been creating lots and lots of content to engage our existing customers and to inform them on health and nutrition. We’re also experimenting constantly with ad creatives and website layouts.
In previous years we have learned that most of our Black Friday revenue was from recurring customers and that spending more on ads did not equal more returns. So we turned to our best channel for retention: old-fashioned e-mail marketing. Remember that, kids?
In total, we sent out 13 campaigns over 7 days—which is an increase of 147% of our regular weekly e-mail volume. By segmenting and personalizing our campaigns we managed to increase revenue by 57,6% year-over-year, with 6 digit revenue numbers. The segmentations also meant less e-mail fatigue for our customers: our open and click rates stayed above the industry average. You might say our e-mails found them well.
Segmentations included campaigns where we were targeting only the most engaged audience, excluding past purchasers, or focusing only on customers with active subscriptions.
Targeted e-mail to a highly engaged audience, offering them a final chance to profit from our Black Friday / Cyber Monday offer. Timer included increasing urgency.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned in the last year?
Even though we had record sales during this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, unfortunately, we hardly made any money. That’s a really tough thing to do right now because inflation is horrible. Not the inflation of an airbed at the beginning of a festival (although that’s pretty horrible too), but the inflation of prices in the current economy. Every supplier I can think of has raised their prices, and the majority have announced further price increases going into ‘22. That goes for everything from shipping to packaging to ingredients. As CEOs and financial managers of our multinational, we officially respond to this type of development with a resounding ‘Boo!’
Think long-term, optimistic and ambitious.
It especially sucks because we would hate to raise our prices. We take a lot of pride in being cost-effective (which is an intellectual way of saying ‘cheap’).
Another lesson I learned is that it’s really easy to switch locations if you're a remote-first company (a company where most employees often work outside of the corporate office). I moved from The Netherlands to Malta because I got fed up with the suffocating rules and regulations. Lots of employees felt the same and chose to join. It's been a very fun adventure. I also learned that it’s quite easy and cheap (uh, I mean cost-effective of course) to let employees participate in the company, which I'm making good use of. I now have five new owner-employees, which is going very well, and even if we do disagree, the weather is way too nice to be arguing.
What are your plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I think we can make a great contribution to our planet by reducing the land needed for agriculture. We're already doing that of course by making solely plant-based meals—no huge meadows full of farting cows are needed for that. But I want to reduce that further by producing quality ingredients from waste streams out of the food industry, using microorganisms in bioreactors that run on green energy, such as nuclear (I like nuclear lol).
Essentially what we want to do is turn waste into food. We are currently running trials with our R&D partner Kernel to have protein from fungi in our meals. It's already more sustainable than soy, which is a very effective and tough-to-beat plant if you calculate its use straight for human consumption as opposed to using it as feed. The nutritional values are really impressive and the protein is on par with milk in amino acid profile and digestibility. I hope we can make it work and scale the technology. And that there will be consumer acceptance because, in the end, it has to be something you’re willing to stick in your mouth. That’s what she—
—said. I’m sorry. But where was I? Right. We could have cities with large bioreactors, vertical farms, and nuclear power plants, and have them run self-sufficient without large plots of agricultural land to sustain them. Completely CO2 neutral.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don't Have To by David Sinclair. It’s amazing nonfiction read about an actual reversal of aging in mice whereby this Harvard professor restored the sight of a mouse that lost it due to aging. Sounds like a Pixar movie? It does, and like all Pixar movies, this happened.
The method they used is very promising and interesting. In 2012 a Japanese scientist named Shinya Yamanaka received a Nobel Prize when he discovered how to convert any cell into pluripotent stem cells. This is very useful because those cells can then become any other cell. It allows scientists to take a skin cell, turn it into a pluripotent stem cell with four proteins (now named the Yamanaka factors) and differentiate that into for example a heart cell. This theoretically allows us to create organs on demand. Like a little factory of body parts.
David Sinclair discovered another exciting application for the Yamanaka factors. Stopping the conversion halfway regenerates the cell back to its youngest form, in effect resetting the expression (epigenetics) of the DNA and thereby removing all the accumulated damages. The most remarkable effect is that it restores the original function of the cell. A tech that allows us to rejuvenate ourselves.
On average, it takes ten years and 2 billion dollars to get something passed FDA approval, which means it could be within our lifetime that labs like that of Sinclair succeed in starting the end of a decline from aging. Who knows, in several years, Indiana Jones’ search for the Holy Grail might become a documentary. Anyway, it makes me very excited for the future.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Seek honest critique. Iterate. Think long-term, optimistic and ambitious. Choose partners with high integrity.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are looking for a conversion rate expert to assist the CRO third party we currently work with. Fulltime. If anyone is interested they can email [email protected].
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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